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City Council Hears Proposed New Citywide Strategic Parking Plan

Published on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 | 3:18 pm

The City Council on Monday heard a presentation on a Citywide parking plan that would overhaul its parking system, with a focus on modernizing technology, implementing demand-based pricing, and improving the overall user experience.

Citywide Parking Strategic Plan, developed by consulting firm Dixon Resources Unlimited, aims to streamline program management, enhance user-friendliness, ensure financial sustainability, and create adaptable policies, is the result of a comprehensive review of the City’s parking program initiated in 2019. The review was prompted by several audits conducted since 2014, which identified various areas for improvement in the operation of parking garages and meters.

In addition to pricing changes, the plan includes eliminating parking meter holidays, simplifying the overnight parking permit program, and updating signage to improve wayfinding.

The City has already implemented some of the plan’s recommendations, such as adjusting rates in City-owned garages and consolidating garage operations under a single vendor.

“The parking program has policies and regulations that haven’t been updated in quite some time,” said Parking Manager John Hamlin.

Under the plan, on-street meter technology would be upgraded and parking payment data would be used to determine occupancy levels and adjust rates accordingly.

The model aims to maintain an 85% occupancy rate, which is considered the industry standard for optimal parking availability and asset utilization.

The plan also suggests implementing an escalating rate structure, which would replace current time limits and allow customers to pay premium rates for longer stays.

“The demand-based parking rate recommendation is designed to maintain an 85% occupancy level on-street while providing drivers with different pricing options for their parking sessions,” the memo stated. “This in turn increases vehicle turnover and therefore the volume of drivers that can park in a metered area increases.”

The development of the Citywide Parking Strategic Plan involved extensive stakeholder engagement, including virtual meetings and online surveys that received over 5,500 responses.

While initial feedback indicated support for eliminating overnight parking restrictions, particularly in high-density residential areas, subsequent outreach revealed concerns about the potential impact on quality of life and public safety, according to the City. As a result, the final plan recommends retaining the current overnight ordinance while better publicizing the process for exempting individual streets and neighborhoods.

“Based on community feedback, the final Plan recommends retaining the overnight ordinance as is, and better publicizing the process to exempt individual streets and neighborhoods from the overnight ordinance,” the City document said.

The next steps in the implementation process will involve creating a prioritized list of recommendations and working with stakeholders to determine the best approach for each item.

The Department of Transportation emphasized that the timing of these efforts will depend on various factors, including City Council prioritization, funding availability, and the ongoing evaluation of initial implementation steps.

“Staff will work with affected stakeholders to craft staff recommendations to be brought to City Council for consideration prior to the implementation of any items requiring Council authorization,” the memo stated. “Timing for implementation of these efforts is dependent on prioritization, funding availability, and the ongoing evaluation of initial implementation steps.”

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